Teen video star Nash Grier will work to educate himself and others about HIV to make up for a “stupid and immature” video clip that went viral this week, his father said Wednesday.
“Nash is not a hatemonger or a homophobe,” but there’s no excuse for posting a six-second spoof in which the teen yelled a slur against gay people, said father Chad Grier of Davidson.
In his own statement on Twitter, 16-year-old Nash Grier apologized again for the video clip, saying he had “talked strongly about something hurtful and serious that I knew nothing about.”
National reports said Nash Grier posted the video in April, after he had millions of followers on the social media app Vine. But Nash and Chad Grier say he actually posted the clip in April 2013, when he had just turned 15 and was, in the father’s words, “playing around with a new app.”
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Vine, an app powered by Twitter, allows people to make and share six-second video loops. It has propelled Nash Grier to fame; he now tops all other users with 8.7 million followers, has a movie deal and lives in Los Angeles taking acting lessons. He recently launched a line of merchandise, ranging from a $40 “Property of Nash Grier” hoodie to a $25 “Mentally Dating Nash Grier” crop top.
In April 2013, just four months after Vine launched, Chad Grier says his son made the clip that opens with a commercial that shows two men saying “Testing for HIV. It’s not a gay thing.” It cuts to a close-up of Nash Grier saying, “Yes it is,” then yelling an insulting term for gays.
Promoting a false stereotype that HIV only affects gays to his millions of teen fans is extremely dangerous. https://t.co/W6X9MUrgUK— Tyler Oakley (@tyleroakley) July 6, 2014
Chad Grier says he saw it about a week later and talked to Nash, who took it down.
“It was just a stupid, immature attempt to be funny,” Chad Grier said. “It wasn’t funny.”
The Observer profiled Nash Grier in October, when his slapstick videos with friends and his 5-year-old sister had earned him 1.4 million followers. The national exposure that ensued propelled the teen to the top spot in Vine rankings by January.
But someone had saved the deleted HIV clip – which Chad Grier says reinforced another lesson that his son will try to share: Offensive things posted online can come back to haunt you. Chad Grier, a football coach, says he tells teens to “be careful before you push the ‘send’ button. You can’t take it back.”
It’s unclear how and when the video resurfaced, but it went viral after YouTube personality Tyler Oakley, an advocate for gay and lesbian youth, shared it on Tumblr and Twitter on Sunday. “Promoting a false stereotype that HIV only affects gays to his millions of teen fans is extremely dangerous,” Oakley tweeted.
Nash Grier tweeted an apology later that day, saying he was “young, ignorant, stupid, and in a bad place.”
“I’ve moved on and learned from my mistakes and I am so truly sorry to anyone I have offended,” the statement continues. “I have nothing against anyone or anything that promotes equality.”
On Tuesday, the Grier family watched as numerous national media outlets and websites reported the story, labeling Nash Grier homophobic and hateful. At least one site also posted several tweets from 2012 and the first half of 2013 in which Nash Grier used gay slurs or called people gay.
The father says his son understands his use of the slur hurt people but isn’t sure how to undo the damage.
“He’s a 16-year-old kid living in LA trying to figure out this new world he’s in,” Chad Grier said.
He said his son plans to use his celebrity to spread the word about the dangers of posting things that can hurt people. He will also educate himself about HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and help spread accurate information, Chad Grier said.
“My goal is to educate myself and do something positive with what I learn,” Nash Grier tweeted Wednesday. “Again to anyone I offended, I am so, so sorry.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus is spread primarily through sexual activity and sharing needles but can also be transmitted from mothers to newborns, through blood transfusions (now extremely rare because of testing) and by accidental contact with a contaminated needle.